Green Frog

Frog in a Pond
Watercolor on paper, 5.5″ x 5.75″

It’s a new week, still barely Sunday for me, and I’m hoping to get a lot done. First is a little study painting of a frog, referenced from Janina Suuronen on Paint my Photo. Should I put the link to the photo like I have been? If you don’t have an account then it won’t show you the photo, so maybe there’s no purpose?

Anyways the paints I used were just Monte Amiata natural sienna and jadeite genuine from Daniel Smith, as well as Verona green earth from Rublev. So just two earthy greens and an earthy yellow.

I started drawing the outlines with a sharp brush (Sceptre Gold II #4 from Winsor & Newton) and the green earth, which is very transparent and perfect for this task. Then I switched between that and a small unnamed Japanese flat synthetic before eventually settling on a da Vinci CosmoTop Mix B Quill, Size 0 for the majority of the details. Both that and the sceptre gold are natural and synthetic blends.

Verdigris Part 2: Oil Paint and Matching

Verdigris 5

After my first verdigris post I made some more pigment and now I finally got around to making some proper oil paint with that, seen on the left of the image above. This was made with poppyseed oil and it was very easy to mull, requiring almost no effort. The finished paint is a really nice turquoise that’s extremely transparent and has extremely low tinting strength. I used a 1:1 mix with zinc white to tint it and it was still very strongly affected even by zinc white, so glazing seems to be the best use for this pigment in oil.

As I mentioned before, almost no one at all presently sells verdigris as either a dry pigment or as a paint of any kind, even though for a couple thousand years it was among the most vivid greens available. A big reason for that is the mix I made on the right side of the image above. Verdigris is moderately toxic and well known to have problems with lightfastness, but the mix I made using only lightfast, non-toxic, and inexpensive paints is nearly a perfect match. I used a lot of terre verte (hoping it’d lend transparency and low tinting strength), french ultramarine, a very small touch of phthalo green to increase the chroma, and zinc white (again hoping for transparency).

The mix isn’t as transparent and has far higher tinting strength, even though I used so much terre verte. Plus, the mix was only intended to match verdigris. Exceeding its chroma with the same hue is very easy with modern pigments, and the high transparency could probably be matched by adding some painting medium to the mix.

In conclusion, my curiosity of what this historical pigment was like has been satisfied and I can now say that it really is an obsolete pigment. It was fun and interesting to make, but there is really nothing that it would offer today that isn’t done better by modern pigments.

Verdigris 4

Here’s a photo of the second batch of pigment that I made in the copper dish, again using white vinegar. I tried using a different kind of vinegar, I think rice, in a separate dish but it only had a minimal development of verdigris and didn’t look any different.


Verdigris 6

Left: Verdigris mixed with cadmium yellow pale (Winsor & Newton, about 15 year old tube)
Right: the same cadmium yellow mixed with blues and greens to approximately match the mixture on the left, as a control sample
Photographed after 48 hours.

As you can see, the verdigris appears to have darkened significantly. I believe it’s in reaction to the sulphur in the cadmium yellow. From what I’ve read verdigris can also darken just from sulphur in the air.

Verdigris 7

For some reason the original swatch of verdigris, on the left, has also changed color in comparison to the control swatch on the right. In this case it’s more of a hue shift than a darkening though. This swatch was made a little less than 4 days ago.

So my experiment with making verdigris probably didn’t make the purest or highest quality pigment possible, and there’s obviously things that I don’t know about chemistry, but what I’ve seen has reinforced my opinion that this historical pigment is obsolete when I consider that I have never seen paint change like this before.

Verdigris Pigment: Making Green From Copper – part 1

Verdigris 2

The photo above is verdigris pigment, PG20, that I made in a copper dish. The scratches were made with a stone to reveal the color.

The name verdigris comes from the French name for “green of Greece,” which is made from copper corrosion. It’s poisonous and from what I’ve read has problems with permanence and other issues, such as damaging paper, but from ancient times until the 19th century it was the most intense green available. Today it’s very rare to see anyone selling it, so yesterday afternoon I started this experiment to make my own.

This was done with a sheet of copper that I cut into a small circle and then hammered into a bowl shape. After that I poured into it a small amount of white vinegar for its acetic acid content. Apparently different vinegars will produce different greens, but this is the only one I’ve tried so far. I had read that a little salt is suppose to help, though I don’t know the specifics, so I also sprinkled in a little sea salt. Then I just left the dish in the sun. As it evaporated I could see a rim of dark green forming around the edge of the vinegar. I forgot to check it this morning, but when I looked in the afternoon everything had evaporated. There was still a bit of a vinegar smell though, and I don’t know if I should have waited longer before collecting the pigment.

Verdigris 3

Looking closely, the bottom of the dish had many green crystals on it. They were easy to scrap off and crush with a palette knife. I also poured in some more vinegar to see if more would form tomorrow, but in the course of making this post it already evaporated and it looks like there is more green in the dish already. Again though, I don’t know if I should let it sit longer.

Verdigris 1

I made a small amount of watercolor with that pigment, just using a palette knife, and then mixed it with lemon ochre in steps to see what it’d look like. The photo shows the paint a little lighter than it really is, but the hue and intensity are pretty close. Looking at the paint from different angles shows a lot of metallic glitter. Maybe that’s copper that didn’t fully corrode?

For the next part of this experiment I’ll get enough pigment to make some oil paint with it. Then I’ll try a different method in which the copper is placed in a jar with some vinegar in the bottom and left in the sun for a month as the vapor from it fills the jar and forms verdigris crystals on the copper. 🙂

Terre Verte / Green Earth


Getting a good photo was hard, and even this isn’t perfect. Whenever I’ve made oil paint from this pigment it’s extremely short paint when it’s freshly made. Even without any stabilizers added the consistency of this paint is the closest there is to being like butter. I think I could even make a sculpture with it.

Genuine terre verte is very transparent and weak tinting. It’s good for glazing, for example. Some brands make an imitation terre verte by mixing pigments like phthalo green with burnt sienna, but the imitations are always far too opaque and are much stronger tinters.

Cool terre vertes, like the Nicosia green earth and the French terre verte at the top, are hard to find. Everyone seems to prefer making the warmer varieties. Sometimes I like to add a little terre verte to ultramarine to make it closer to a middle blue. 🙂


Mossy Waterfall Sketch

Mossy Waterfall Sketch

Watercolor on 90lb Aquabee paper, 3.5″x6″

One of a few sketches I was working on in preparation for a larger painting. The colors I used were German vine black (PBk8, Rublev), a pan premix I made of rich green gold (PY129, Daniel Smith) and tiny amount of shungite black ochre (self made, pigment from Natural Pigments), a white I made from marble dust, and a small touch of a couple of others. It’s not perfect, but I like the style of it. Maybe it’s kind of dreamy? I need to plan out the water better for the final version.

Deepest Forest

Deepest Forest

Oil on glass

An abstract experiment. I was making some oil paint today using terre verte pigment (PG23) from Sennelier and I liked the way it spread on the grinding plate. That’s a little more than half a tube worth of paint. Of course, after taking the photo I scraped it all up to put it in a tube.

Silver Forest

Oil on steel

I thought the paint on my palette knife looked like trees with a silvery cloud moving over them. ^_^

edit- aaaah! I knew I hadn’t posted anything in a while, but I didn’t think it’d been over half a month. I have a lot of paintings I’ve been working on, and a few are even finished or close to it, so… yeah. I guess I’ll have some more posts coming shortly. 🙂

Green Forest

Green Forest

Oil on canvas, 10″ x 8″

A dense green forest with a stream slipping through it. Loosely based on this painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi. I started this a long time ago but only as a sketch, and then recently I finished it. Besides the few colors I used for the sketch, I only used ultramarine green (PG24, Rembrandt), cobalt yellow (PY50, Daniel Smith) and lemon yellow (PY31, Michael Harding). The ultramarine green by itself is very cold and transparent, almost blue. It took a long time to dry. The cobalt yellow is also transparent and dries very fast. I used it to make all of the different greens and yellow greens by mixing it with ultramarine green. The lightest highlights are lemon yellow, which is opaque. Transparent shadows and opaque highlights seem to work well. I didn’t use any white paint this time.

Lately I’ve been busy in my garden. My back hurts right now from all the digging I’ve been doing to plant things, like the potatoes I planted this morning. It really wouldn’t take so long just to dig a little, but then I try to save every worm. ^_^

Hidden Away

Hidden Away

Oil on canvas, 10″ x 8″

Lately I’ve been making a lot of things in various media in which I try techniques, styles, materials, or subject matter that I normally don’t. This started as a watercolor sketch on a whim with no real plan except to test a different technique. While I worked on the brushstrokes I thought of adding a deer to it, since so many live around my house and are always looking at me like this from a distance. I liked how it turned out and made this oil painting based on that sketch.

The colors I used for the oil painting are-
• cobalt green deep (Blue Ridge)
• cobalt turquoise (Blue Ridge)
• cadmium green (a mix I made and tubed a few months ago of viridian and cadmium yellow from various brands)
• raw sienna red shade (Blue Ridge)
• titanium white (Williamsburg)

Hidden Away Sketch

This is the original sketch, which in some ways I kind of like better. I might remake this again later as either a finished watercolor or a new oil painting.